The Cannabis Influencers: criminal lawyer Sarah Leamon

“I think that a lot of people assume that legal cannabis means no laws around cannabis—and that’s just simply not the case”

Sarah-Leamon

Sarah Leamon is a Vancouver-based criminal lawyer and a widely regarded authority on impaired-driving cases and cannabis law.

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Sarah Leamon is a Vancouver-based criminal lawyer and a widely regarded authority on impaired-driving cases and cannabis law.

In 2017, Leamon was asked to provide expert legal testimony on proposed changes to Canada’s Criminal Code. Specifically, she testified about changes to the country’s impaired driving laws in light of cannabis legalization. Leamon’s testimony before the House of Commons Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was so well-received that she was subsequently invited to appear before the Senate, in Ottawa, in the same capacity.

Leamon is a regular contributor to CannCentral’s sister publication, the Georgia Straight, where she writes about legal and political matters.

Why cannabis law still matters (even after legalization)

“Cannabis law, like all law, matters because it shapes our world and how we do things. The various laws and regulations around cannabis navigate our interactions with it, our views of it, and our access to it. Cannabis law regulates how cannabis is produced, packaged, marketed, sold, and consumed. It has very real implications and it most definitely still matters!”

Why I do what I do

“I think that most criminal lawyers have a very strong sense of social justice, and I am no exception to that rule. I believe that all people deserve a vigorous defence at law and protection against a potentially over-reaching state. I understand that situations are not always clear-cut—although they sometimes may appear to be—and that the legal system can be very difficult to navigate. Access to justice is imperative. My role is essential in ensuring it.”  

One thing I would change about cannabis laws as they currently stand

“Although we have come a long way in terms of cannabis legalization, there is still a lot of work to be done. First and foremost, the laws around cannabis impaired driving are ripe for reform. From a scientific perspective, there is little—if any—correlation between the amount of THC in a person’s system and their impairment level. However, our laws criminalize driving with a THC content above a prescribed limit. This is an imperfect approach. It does nothing to protect the public or to deter behaviour that poses a real threat to public safety, while also criminalizing behaviour that doesn’t. In my view, it’s one of the first things that should be properly amended.”  

Will Joe Biden legalize cannabis at a federal level in the U.S.? 

“I think it’s too early to say what the new President-Elect will do, once he enters office. Biden has gone back and forth on the issue quite a bit—from supporting ‘tough on crime’ bills in the early days of his political career and describing cannabis as a ‘gateway drug’ to supporting decriminalization at a federal level in more recent times. Keep in mind, though, that even if the U.S. were to decriminalize cannabis, it is not the same as legalization.  Under this scheme, cannabis would likely still be classified as a controlled substance.”

Something everything should know about cannabis 

“That it’s still very highly regulated! I think that a lot of people assume that legal cannabis means no laws around cannabis—and that’s just simply not the case. There are still over 40 criminal offences on the books in relation to cannabis, and so it’s important to educate yourself before you act…otherwise, you could find yourself in need of a criminal lawyer!” 

Follow Sarah Leamon on Twitter and Instagram.

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